Gazing into my Crystal Ball: Healthcare Industry 2030 Transformation through Technology and Innovation

Dr. Vishal Rajgarhia, Director, Finecure Pharmaceuticals, Chairman, ASSOCHAM Pharma Council, Director, Ecuador India Chamber of | Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 10:25 IST

Gazing into my crys­tal ball, I perceive what Healthcare scenario will be like 15 years from now. With an industry that is seeing innovations, inven­tions and modifications by the day, predicting requires a brave clairvoy­ant, but I am convinced that the scenario I lay out will be a reality and an actuality in the foreseeable future. In fact, most of these are al­ready making their presence felt, al­beit they are in their nascent stages, but sooner rather than later they will become the norm.

Hopefully, there is going to be trailblazing innovation resulting in some phenomenal medical find­ing that could provide a key to cure Cancer, Alzheimer’s and AIDS. There will also be preventive vac­cines against diseases like Ebola and other diseases that keep on making their presence felt from time to time. Weeks of painful radiation therapy will be eliminated and doctors will administer a single dose of their new smart medicine, making treatment more comfortable and less painful.

One thing I can safely predict is that the way healthcare is accessed, delivered and remunerated for, will undergo a paradigm change. No more will patient pay abnormal and astronomical charges, treatment will become more affordable and bet­ter. The patient will expect and get the required level of excellence, and doctors will have to become more re­sponsive and accountable. Moreover, the patient will be the numero uno.

Healthcare will be more of an ed­ucation rather than a treatment based on the intake of medicine. There will be e-tutors on your tablets and cell phones, and individuals can be able to access a wide array of informa­tion on how to deal with their con­ditions. Self-monitoring will become the norm. Patients can monitor their own conditions from the comfort of their homes. All they will have to do is punch in a few details about their symptoms or specific numbers from tests they have undergone and upload information to predetermined sites where an e-doctor will counsel and propose a measure on how to man­age their diabetes or hypertension or whatever they are suffering from. Moreover, once they log in, e-doctor will continually monitor their condi­tion and keep updating and apprising them on what needs to be done.

Meditation, Yoga, and brain-gyms for elderly will become a real­ity and a proven form of preventive healthcare. Brain-gyms will help el­derly keep their brains from becom­ing sluggish and Alzheimer’s will be relegated to history.

Our hospitals will soon become monolithic entities that will slowly phase out of existence. Healthcare will be delivered to where the pa­tient is and he/she will no more have to visit their physician or summon an ambulance to take them to hos­pital. There will be an influx of new high-tech applications for engaging, co-operating and providing care to patients wherever they are. There is already in existence a telemonitoring automated system that seeks informa­tion relevant to patient’s disease and on basis of data collected, dispenses appropriate remedial measures. Re­trieving of predetermined informa­tion, like say the patient’s diabetic glucose levels five years ago, the app will recover information in seconds because all data will be stowed for fu­ture reference.

Another brilliant innovation which I can foresee is wearable elec­tronic health management bands. There will be a band around your ankles to record your stress rate and heartbeat, and another around your wrist that can prompt you about vari­ous aspects that you need to be aware of. This will make it easier for pa­tients to make educated choices and go about their lives with less interfer­ence and fretfulness.

A new breed of healthcare people will enter in a big way. Apart from usual doctors, nurses, dentists and physiotherapists, there will be a wide range of health practitioners with new labels like Organic Agronomists, Nourishment Therapists, Workout Physiologists, Say-No-To-Smoking Coaches, Brain Gym Trainers and Meditation Gurus, whose prime duty will be to ensure that those who are not sick, should stay healthy and to help those who are already sick, to manage their conditions positively and correctly. Doctors will become more accountable and pay as per re­sults delivered. On the other hand, if the patient feels that he has been short-changed and treatment is not doing any good, the physician may have to pay a heavy monetary pen­alty. Simply put, deliver results and get paid, fail to deliver results then be penalized.

Treatment will become less inva­sive. Cardiograms, MRI’s and medi­cal ultrasound will become history. Technology-assisted information, along with chip technology wherein a chip is embedded in some part of the body and genetic fingerprinting will become the norm for patient infor­mation that a physician needs. While becoming non-invasive, it will im­prove efficiency, speed-up treatment and medical records can be retrieved in seconds.

Robots will replace conventional surgeons, especially for precise Na­no-surgery. Robots are already in use for surgery these days but what I am talking about is ‘Nanobots’. Minis­cule robots will be released into the human body, where they will assess conditions and diseases, and take wireless commands from a human thinking specialist, administer medi­cine, and target exactly cancer and diseased cells, much more perfectly and safely than human hands.

Replacing human tissue will be­come a normal activity. Parts that need to be replaced, for example, a kidney, will be grown inside of pa­tients through tissue taken from per­son’s own body, eliminating all issues of matching groups and ensuring that new organ is compatible with pa­tients DNA. The new organ growth will make transplantation obsolete and leave behind diseased organ by rejuvenating and supplanting it.

No more will there be one-size-fits-all types of medicines. Drugs will become increasingly specialized. Side effects of drugs will be eliminated as drugs are made for individual speci­fications. Drug companies will have amassed data of an individual from when he/she was a foetus in their mother’s womb till their contempo­rary age. Furthermore, they would also have access to other medically relevant information from genetics to DNA, which would allow them to make medication specific to particu­lar human.

One last look at healthcare of 2030s, reveals made-to-order com­missioned babies. There will be sperm and egg banks with a rate card and desirous to be parents can choose sperm or eggs. So, the sperm could belong to a good-looking film star or a hulk sized wrestler or a rich indus­trialist. You can shop for the type of children that you want. Whether that is ethically correct, is a matter of con­jecture and discussion, so we leave it at that.

As I pack my crystal ball, a word of caution. Modern healthcare inno­vations prolong human existence, re­duce pain and alleviate suffering, but many a time cross ethical and moral boundaries. Today, medicine has made many things possible that our grandparents would not even be able to contemplate. Who would have thought that a 60-year-old woman could have a baby? We have been able to identify genetic codes to perfec­tion, but instead of using this to cure diseases, we leverage this to monitor unborn female children so that they can be aborted. We must ensure that increasing technology does not tran­scend ethical and moral values.

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